Whistleblower, former board chair deny ‘inappropriate personal relationship’
Republished from the Vermont Standard
The Woodstock Foundation trustees say a law firm hired for an independent investigation was unable to substantiate complaints about systemic discrimination against females or LGBTQ persons working at the Woodstock Inn and Billings Farm & Museum.
The trustees, through both a letter to employees and a separate legal filing this week, downplayed the employee allegations raised in a lawsuit filed against them in January and instead maintained there was misconduct by the three main players that sought to address the employee complaints. They also claim the primary whistleblower, Anna Berez, and the former Vice Chair of the Foundation Board, Salvatore Iannuzzi, had an “inappropriate personal relationship” — a claim that both vehemently deny.
Woodstock Foundation Chair James S. Sligar, in a three-page letter to employees, and the Foundation in a 21-page counterclaim filed in Vermont Superior Court in Woodstock, attack Iannuzzi, Berez and former Board Chair Ellen R.C. Pomeroy. The trustees maintain Berez received improper, unapproved raises, bonuses, other benefits and favoritism, that Iannuzzi acted unprofessionally, and that he and/or Pomeroy either terminated or forced the resignations of four top managers at the resort.
While filing the counterclaim in court on Monday, Feb. 27, the defendants did not directly respond to the 31-page lawsuit initially filed by Pomeroy and Iannuzzi on Jan. 20 or the amended complaint that added more defendants and claims last month. A formal written answer to the civil lawsuit is not due until later this month from the trustees/defendants: Sligar, Michael D. Nolan, John T. Hallowell, Douglas R. Horne, David M. Simmons, William S. Moody, Gail Waddell and Angela K. Ardolic.
Also named as defendants are The Woodstock Foundation Inc. and WRC Holdings LLC. Before saying there was no basis for past and current employees to make claims of systemic discrimination, the defendants in the initial lawsuit went on the offensive. Besides the claimed inappropriate personal relationship, they maintain their investigation found a major divide among employees.
Republished from the newsletter for The Vermont Standard, the weekly newspaper for Woodstock and surrounding Windsor County towns. Read more at The Vermont Standard.